The Smashing Book: Already Got Yours?

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Have you gotten your copy of The Smashing Book yet? If not, it may still be worth spending $29.90 for this printed book. The book shares technical tips and best practices on typography, usability, UI design, marketing and color usage. It contains interviews with high profile designers and developers. And you will also get a peek behind the curtains of Smashing Magazine. You can buy the book now, it is available and can be shipped right away! And you can also check more details about the book.

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Also, in this post we are giving away 35 exclusive Smashing Book Posters (folded, limited edition), and if you want to win one, just leave a comment on this post and tell us what you would do with it! So, let’s find out who are Smashing Magazine’s biggest fans?

[Offtopic: By the way, did you know that Smashing Magazine has a mobile version? Try it out if you have an iPhone, Blackberry or another capable device.]

Bonus: New Free Chapter Of The Book

Need an appetizer? Here are two free chapters of the Smashing Book (Chapter 1 was released a couple of months ago). You can download them as a PDF:

Smashing Book Around The World

Many things have been happening with and around The Smashing Book in recent weeks. You must have read or heard that it would fall apart immediately upon being opened (okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration). In fact, the pages loosened quickly, and the reading experience was anything but ideal (the adhesive binding was the culprit). The verdict from many users was thus: brilliant content, very poor binding. And yes, let’s face facts: we indeed did a poor job in our first attempt at offline publishing, but we are willing to learn from our experience and do it better the next time. In fact, the next time has already come.

We have thoroughly monitored the feedback and heard your complaints, which is why we have produced a Corrected Edition of the book, with stable, high-quality stitched binding. Nothing will fall apart here… guaranteed. And the price remains the same.

The release of the Smashing Book has been very exciting. We’ve seen many photos, videos and even unboxing galleries. We have even seen the books being explored by cats, pancakes, cactuses and babies!

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Photo by Remworks

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Photo by Eddie Ebeling.

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Photo by Julien Bob (the cat’s name is Monsieurbleu).

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Photo by Danielle Wu.

A Word On The Shipping

We are of course not a postal service, and because we are located in Germany, we had to rely on the German postal service (Deutsche Post) to deliver the books to you. This usually works fairly well, but the first weeks in December certainly weren’t our preferred shipping time. Logistics companies were already busy with the Christmas season, and so delivery of our books went very slowly. And because we have been shipping the books worldwide, delivery times have varied significantly. No wonder it took as long as a couple of weeks for the books to be delivered, slowed down as they were by the holidays.

It’s truly astonishing what can happen to books when you ship a large number of them. There are hundreds of stories: the labels got messed up, damaged, loosened or stuck together; the book was delivered but is sitting in the apartment of a neighbor who has gone on vacation; the mail carrier delivered the book to the wrong house or misread the label; the label has a printing error; my address has changed; the book was left sitting in a delivery container; the postal service sent the book to the wrong state and is in the process of rerouting it; the book is being held up in customs. The list goes on and on. Every day we learn of a number of such cases. If you purchased your book a long while ago but still haven’t received it, please send your order details to our support team at We’ll be in touch right away and will investigate.

Was It Worth The Wait?

Well, we can’t answer that question because we are obviously biased. But our readers and book reviewers can answer that question for us. Many book reviews are out there, sharing both positive and negative impressions. In our forum, murphyslaw has published a long, very detailed review of every chapter of the book. What do other readers say? Here are a few snippets:

“The advice is pitched at what I would call intermediate-to-advanced level. It’s aimed at web designers, doesn’t include any coding details, and focuses on notions of good practice. Elegant solutions for common problems are offered on almost every page. The book has also been written by a group of professional designers – so they know what they’re talking about.” — Roy Johnson

“The Smashing Book is a great, really great book for everybody who is interested in design and web-development. Especially the typography and learning from the experts chapters where inspirational resources to me. The content is great but I believe the layout of the pages should be as a book. Support the Smashing Magazine Book by ordering your copy and I hope SM will continue the concept of bringing the content by book.” — Sander Baumann, Designworkplan

“The book is basically all of SM’s best articles condensed into a book. This is what you’d expect, as it would be hard to top what they have on the website already. The content is very detailed, perhaps even too much in some cases, but it is like a ‘bible of web design’ covering all the things you should know.” — Lee Munroe

“I think the Smashing Book is a perfect book for web designers and developers of all levels, and I am excited that it lives up to the hype. It provides very comprehensive information that is both useful and essential for designers and developers who want to make the quailty of their websites improve.” — admixweb

“I think the book is a great buy for the price. For all you people still waiting for it to be delivered, it’s worth it!” — ThatDeadPixel

“Overall, this is a great effort from the Smashing Team and all the authors. The book features good web design theory and many practical techniques backed up by real world examples in the form of colourful screenshots. This book will not become obsolete in the short term, and should be placed in everyone’s library. Overall score:  8.5/10 – A Smashing Book!” — Hixdesign

Please note that all errors and inaccuracies are being collected in the Errata, which can be found through our Smashing List of Links (only a few errors have been found so far).

Buy The Book Now!

The Smashing Book is a printed book about best practices in modern Web design. The book shares technical tips and best practices on coding, usability and optimization and explores how to create successful user interfaces and apply marketing principles to increase conversion rates. It also shows how to get the most out of typography, color and branding so that you end up with intuitive and effective Web designs. And lastly, you will also get a peek behind the curtains of Smashing Magazine.

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It’s a paperback: 313 pages, full-color images on coated paper, available worldwide. Free shipping to the US and Germany, and reduced shipping costs to other countries. 30-day 100% money-back guarantee. You can find more details about the book in the post Smashing Book: It’s Out Now!


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Gillmor Gang: The Kindle Effect

tabletFriendFeed’s return of its realtime Twitter feed is a great end to a turbulent year. Watching the river flow is a maddening exercise in gauging the value of the stream, but having the option again is invigorating as much as it underlines the futility of keeping up. That’s where the Kindle comes in. Kindle is a vacation from the stream; it’s checking into the Millstream motel and communing with old friends and old-is-new ideas.

2009 has been a challenging year, particularly on a human level. Personally, I’ve seen friendships turn to dust as the economic crisis grinds the once-carefree impulses of the realtime Web into marketing and posturing. As someone who writes columns and produces the Gillmor Gang, certainly we all are guilty of these crimes. What I saw as a declaration of the obvious (RSS is dead) continues to roil the conversation, but the damage to a longstanding friendship with Dave Winer seems substantial. Perhaps the friendship that founders on disagreement is not the loss it once might have been.

On the plus side, the massive success of social media and its drivers has rendered moot the criticism that these issues and personalities are not worthy of the enterprise or indeed any serious pursuit of one’s time. As a product of the Sixties, if anything the connection between industry and my passion for technology, the arts, and comedy has become so pervasive that I would be virtually unrecognizable to myself from that era. I have become my father, mother, cop, and judge even as I struggle to make the mortgage and ease my kids into the unknowable future. Tech feels to me like the sessions for some potentially great record, or the noodlings of some robotic drum machine.

I haven’t seen the Lizard movie yet, but from afar it seems more on the side of science fantasy than fiction. I’m sure I’m wrong, but for now I’ll preserve that standoffish pose I took with Twitter and Facebook and the Kindle — knowing full well I’d soon join the stumbling herd but glad to pass the time today pushing more familiar buttons. As the stream floats by, the usual persists: open v. closed, tablet rumors, is realtime real, and so on. OK, I’ll bite:

If Apple really launches a tablet in late January, the growing wisdom is that such a device will roll up Kindle, AppleTV, and iTunes into an on-demand realtime streaming service/platform. Given the machinations of book publishers seeking to break the back of Amazon’s lock on the book stream, coupled with Comcast’s bundling of Web-on-demand with its triple play services, it seems logical that Apple would try and jump in before its competitors become too powerful. As with the mobile space, a tablet would need price supports to take off and hold ground.

The social platforms hold valuable cards (identity, affinity clouds, content gateways) but face commoditization and the threat of fragmentation of the realtime market by threatened incumbents (Murdoch, Microsoft, Google.) Since it’s more difficult to predict success, how about anticipating failure. The list of question marks has grown in 2009, including Nokia, Palm, the record companies, just about everybody too boring to talk about. When Scoble says talking about something is dead means it’s not interesting anymore, he’s wrong about what is being said but right about what interesting means. Namely, interesting as in can this help us survive or medicate us while the clueful move in to take over.

Looked at through this lense, what does Google Wave portend? Is it a rewrite of Gmail/Gchat with extensions into Google Office? Or is it a connecting technology to Android devices and tablets that forms the basis of a hybrid realtime OS with all of the opportunities of impulse transactions? If so, how do the media frames of the recent past fit into that fabric? Movies seem the least efficient just in terms of time cost and lack of repeatability relative to music and realtime news. Books would seem imperiled for similar reasons, but don’t underestimate the grounding aspect of relatively stable pools of information, nor the tendency of periodicals to blend into new forms that are more booklike in effect while preserving the dynamics of social filtering.

This sense of calm underlying the maelstrom that is realtime media is at the heart of what Wave represents, whether it gets there first or iteratively. Once people become addicted to the stream, the economics trend toward systems that allow parachuting in and out without breaking concentration or the appearance of it for the benefit of spouses, bosses, and cops at traffic intersections. Last night a friend told us about getting a ticket for failing to be aware of what was happening in front of him during a turn he was making. How dare the cop think he could get inside our minds and know what we’re thinking or indeed not thinking? The judge told him to shut up and pay the fine.

Will ChromeOS have more of an impact than Nexus One this coming year? I doubt it, not because Chrome won’t gobble mind share in significant if not voluminous quarters, but because Nexus One is so important as a driver of impulse economics. No matter how quickly we see realtime impacting on the economy now, once the Kindle psychology moves into the mainstream Web experience the momentum in terms of dynamic pricing will make search seem like slow motion. The implications of FourSquare are much more about the dynamic provisioning of offers as we (micro-communities) move through time and space than who’s Mayor and who’s in the room.

On the Gillmor Gang we wandered into a discussion (well, the chat seemed more like a meetup at the Place de la Concorde) about personalized aggregation. While some suggested the ReTweet cloud would get there first, I tend to side with the application of gestures to editorial views as I’ve assumed TechMeme has done since Day One. The nature and speed of those gestures may have accelerated, but the power of overlapping clouds of micro-communities has yet to be seriously challenged. That doesn’t mean we’ve actually seen this strategy built out at any consequential level, but Nexus One and whatever Apple is launching will produce a data wave of such economic force as to make Black Friday seem like a steam engine.

Inevitably, the conversation rotates back to the white hat/black hat discussion of the Open Web, with its hardcoded simplification of a much more interesting (Robert) circumstance. Luckily, those back-and-forth “no, you are” debates run out of steam and atrophy, while innovation, humor, and the music of the times draw people together in a feeling of micro-community that not only feels better but is producing a tidal wave of economic equity for its users. The Kindle effect is hidden in its avoidance of the backlight, marrying the calm of reflection with the speed of insight. It will indeed be interesting to see how this builds out. 2010 is already well underway.

Crunch Network: MobileCrunch Mobile Gadgets and Applications, Delivered Daily.

The Twitter/FriendFeed Connection Goes Realtime Once Again

It has been a sad few months on FriendFeed following their acquisition by Facebook. Despite assurances that FriendFeed would not die, activity has dwindled and many users have moved on. While the service was still working, there was a fairly major glitch that made it much less compelling: Tweets, the main source of content for FriendFeed, stopped coming in at realtime speeds, and instead were delayed by up to an hour. But today, finally, realtime tweets have been restored.

If you visit FriendFeed right now, you’ll notice that many tweets are coming in with about an 8 second delay. Some are delayed a little bit longer, but it’s infinitely better than the delay we’ve all endured for months now. And many of us have been complaining for months, wondering if the Facebook deal caused Twitter to pull FriendFeed’s firehose. What actually happened is that FriendFeed was apparently transitioning over to one of the newer Twitter data streams. At our Realtime CrunchUp last month, FriendFeed co-founder Paul Buchheit indicated that they were close to implementing this new stream, but wouldn’t say what the hold up was.

For Google, The Meaning Of Open Is When It’s Convenient For Them


Yesterday, Google published a long manifesto on the “meaning of open” in the form of an email to all employees republished as a blog post. In it, senior VP of product management Jonathan Rosenberg, makes an eloquent argument for why open systems always win and urges Google’s employees to always strive to be open when designing products. An open Internet spurs innovation and brings more consumers on board, which ultimately means more searches and increased use of Web applications.

The gist of his argument is that a bigger, better Internet is good for Google. He writes that Google employees should resist the impulse to create closed products and systems, and even makes a swipe at Apple for doing so (bold added for emphasis):

Voice May Join Google’s Enterprise Lineup

GrandCentral, which Google acquired in 2007, relaunched as Google Voice way back in March. It’s still technically in private beta, but invitations aren’t all that hard to find.

From what we’ve heard, Google is very seriously planning to add a version of the Google Voice product to its Apps/Office suite of applications for businesses. Currently, businesses are offered enterprise versions of Google Docs (online Office), Gmail, calendar and other applications. More than 2 million businesses and 20 million people use Google Apps.

Facebook Uses FriendFeed As A Testing Ground For The Next Generation Of OAuth

Screen shot 2009-12-21 at 2.54.32 PMWhen Facebook bought FriendFeed a few months ago, no one was really sure what would happen to the service. The acquisition was mainly for FriendFeed’s talent, so there was much concern that FriendFeed would wither. And to an extent it has. But, as it’s proving today, it still can serve some purpose for Facebook: A testing ground for new technology.

As Facebook’s David Recordon writes today on the Developer Blog, the development team has implemented a prototype version of the new OAuth WRAP specification on FriendFeed. One of FriendFeed’s co-founders, Bret Taylor, who is now Facebook’s Director of Product Management for Platform, also writes at length about it on his own blog. The basic gist is that Facebook decided to test out implementing it in FriendFeed so that they could get feedback from anyone in the developer community that wants to try it out.

You say you want a revolution

gg1217The RSS-is-not-dead-it’s just-Twitter Lobby is finally getting the point. As Dave Winer, Anil Dash, Stowe Boyd, Fred Wilson, and whoever else thinks the time for the Bum’s Rush is upon us are proclaiming, the Open Twitter API can save the world from onecompanyitis. In five words: Bearhug Twitter and feed them PB&J until they explode. I know that’s 9 words, but in this upside down argument, it’s really 5 invented in 2001 with just 4 small one-time-only updates.

Only one small problem: Twitter killed RSS, not the other way around. Twitter didn’t do RSS some big favor by extracting the vast majority of citations away from Google Reader and its victims in the RSS aggregator wars. Twitter rolled through downtown URLville and right over every social media platform including Facebook with one simple premise. Hi, how you doin’? You are what you tweet. The next big thing since Gmail. Please put down your lunchbox and take a number.

Today URLs flow through Twitter. Ideas ship on Twitter. Software is built on Twitter. Fine: the Open RSS API means we can now write to a standard interface that lets Twitter clients become carriers for blogs, conversations, comments, podcasts, and all sorts of unaffiliated competitors. Except that’s hogwash. The time for bearhugging Twitter to the ground vanished when Facebook realized it had to clone Twitter or lose control of the social graph. Once FriendFeed created a realtime conversational data type, the race was under way to codify Twitter and extend it before Twitter absorbed the capability. Neither has happened yet, but once either company reaches that goal, there is no need for a social revolution.

This is not the IM Wars all over again. This is not Do No Evil 2.0. Twitter has produced a great service that transcends the politics of the moment, just as Gmail eviscerated email as we knew it. What part of Yum, Good do we fail to understand is bad for us? It’s a simple and inviolate contract: you do something useful and I’ll give you my data. How do they make money with that? Don’t care, they’ll think of something. If everybody likes it, you got yourself a lock on the market.

This is why the Gphone materializing is just as good for Apple as Google, and therefore all of us. Competition drives innovation, and it also drives duopolies, as Jason correctly noted on this week’s Gillmor Gang. Twitter has already created a duopoly, by proffering a public model with exceptional filtering characteristics that neatly validates Facebook’s private identity model. The power is not in a single API unification but rather an economic duopoly at the intersection of the two social platforms.

Why is the Gphone powerful? Because it leverages price supports to drive the cost of the device toward zero for the user. Google can afford to lower the smartphone entry point to match the iPhone, and in so doing set up a competitive environment where social applications can flourish equally well across both platforms. Those broadband social applications (using hybrid development tools across ChromeOS and Silverlight) provide a second wave of price supports in the form of marketing and transactional revenue. 1% of everything that moves is plenty of a business model for Twitter, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and the rest of the global economy to boot.

This doesn’t mean that there’s no room for the little guy, the small developer, the open source aesthetic, the impulse to contribute to the community. It just means that painting these companies as evil or controlling or untrustworthy begins to say more about the motives of those who attack them. Of course Twitter can be disingenuous when they remove services for “technical” reasons only to sell them off to Microsoft and Google for millions of dollars when they rebuild their infrastructure. But did that slow down adoption of the service or the proliferation of third party apps? Is Facebook slowing down as it tramples privacy?

No and no. Twitter continues to build out its dominant social array of overlapping follow clouds. Lists and firewalled retweets may keep Scoble and others busy, but until realtime conversation is enabled, Twitter will be valuable mostly for its ubiquity and trigger mechanism for dynamic filtering. Facebook is testing Twitter posting, which when implemented will become the laboratory for FriendFeed style aggregation and realtime chat. Put simply, Facebook will become the hybrid of both models, forcing Twitter to enable threading to contain the damage to its authority model.

We’re seeing a realtime negotiation between these two leaders of the social revolution, with Benioff, Ozzie, Jobs, and LarrynSergey waiting patiently just off camera. It’s a good time for the Open Twitter API guys to declare victory, but it would be nice if they stopped sliming the socialcos and bigcos who get it just as much.

Crunch Network: MobileCrunch Mobile Gadgets and Applications, Delivered Daily.

Trackle Launches Real-Time Social Directory Of Tracking Alerts

Trackle, a personalized web and RSS feed tracker we wrote about earlier this year, is making itself a whole lot more social today with the launch of a real-time search engine on the site that lets you follow other people’s Trackles.’s free web service provides personalized RSS feeds for data such as the latest crime in a user’s neighborhood, fluctuating airline ticket prices, how much a user’s house value is down this week, updated job listings, sports scores and more.

The new search platform within Trackle lets you search for other user’s trackings by keyword. Here’s how it works: people within the Trackle community contribute by setting up alerts for very specific and changing information (they will show up in search when users set up their profiles as public). These alerts are then shared by the community, specific, time-sensitive information, such as information is then posted on Trackle as it happens, in real time. Duplicate requests are removed, so there are no repeated alerts.

Google Starts Pushing Chrome To All Mac Users On Its Homepage

Screen shot 2009-12-17 at 6.00.42 PMAs we all know by now, Google Chrome for Mac and Linux are now here, and despite the Mac version missing a few features at the moment, both are earning rave reviews around the web. Meanwhile, a report a couple days ago from Net Applications suggested that the Mac and Linux builds helped push Chrome into the number three browser spot in terms of usage, past Apple’s own Safari. And it could be on the verge of jumping even higher thanks to Google now promoting it on its homepage to all Mac users.

Across all the major web browsers that work on the Mac (Firefox, Safari, Opera, Camino), Google is now placing an overlay on which reads “A faster way to browse the web” and includes a Chrome logo and a button that you can click to be taken to the Chrome for Mac download page. This shows up regardless of if you’re signed into your Google account or not. The only requirement is that you not being using Chrome. Clicking on the “X” will make the overlay disappear.

Autodesk Acquires Sequoia-Backed Software Design Startup PlanPlatform

Autodesk, the developer of software design applications, has acquired PlanPlatform, a competing company. According to reports, Autodesk shelled out between $20-$30 million for the Israeli startup. Autodesk, a publicly traded company, provides software design applications for a variety of industries, including Architecture, Engineering, Media and Entertainment.

PlanPlatform, formerly known as Visual Tao, develops SaaS that provides engineers with two-dimensional and three-dimensional software drafting tools. The startup recently $4.3 million, with Sequoia Capital leading the round. Autodesk has acquired a number of companies, including Algor, SoftImage and 3D Geo.